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DRAKE'S VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES.
Singular conduct of Sir Philip Sydney-The squadron and troops employed--Land on the island of St. Jago-Attack St. Domingo, and capture it-Attack Cartagena and take itSickness in the fleet-Abandon the intention of taking Nombre de Dios, and entering the Isthmus, destroy St. Augustine— Return homewards-Call at Virginia-Bring away the Governor and Colonists, who abandon the Colony-Introduction of Tobacco.
THE complete success of the circumnavigation voyage gave an additional spur, both to navy and army, to humble the arrogant pretensions of Spain, and punish the authors of the cruelties and unheard of miseries inflicted on our countrymen in their Indian possessions. Her Majesty was not less pleased with the result of the last voyage, and as a test of her approval she advanced Sir Francis Drake to the rank of Admiral; and signified her pleasure that he should put in preparation a fleet, which she destined for the West Indies. She had every motive for adopting this measure; she was well aware that the treaty she had just concluded with
the United Netherlands would be considered by the King of Spain as little short of a declaration of war, and that she ought to be prepared accordingly. He had, in fact, already laid an embargo upon all the English ships, goods, and men, found within his territories, which was itself a hostile measure, and the first step to a declaration of war. Her Majesty was, moreover, fully aware that little chance could be entertained of restitution, or of obtaining any satisfaction for her subjects whose property had been seized, and therefore, she wisely adopted the only measure that could be taken, to indemnify themselves on the subjects of the King of Spain in the West Indies, from whence his chief reliance for supplies was derived. But the power of the King of Spain was not to be disregarded.
"The Queen and kingdom," says Strype, "had the greatest apprehensions from abroad of the King of Spain with whom she could obtain no good understanding: and of whom especially it concerned her to beware, considering his power, which at that time was formidable; and thus set forth by our historian (Camden :) all the Princes of Italy were at his beck the bishop of Rome was wholly addicted and engaged to him; the Cardinals were, as it were, his vassals; all the ablest persons, for matters both of war and peace, were his pensioners. In Germany, the house of Austria, a house extending and branching far and wide, and other houses
allied unto the same by marriages, did, as it were, attend upon him and his service. His wealth also and his strength were so much increased, both by sea and land, since the late addition of Portugal and East India, that he was far more powerful and formidable than ever his father Charles V. was. And if he should once reduce the Netherlands under his power, there was nothing to hinder, but that the rest of the princes of Christendom must of necessity stoop to his greatness, unless it were prevented.'
"This powerful prince then the Queen had to deal with. It was judged therefore the best course to favour the Netherlanders, with whom he was now at war, and towards whom he had exercised great barbarities. It was now under deliberation concerning the doing of this weighty matter. The lord-treasurer had consulted with Hawkins, a brave seaman and treasurer of the Navy, upon this affair; and what means might be used in this undertaking, requiring to know his thoughts thereof. He soon after showed that statesman, in writing, the means to offend that king, and the reasons to maintain that faction."*
The reasons were strong enough, but the power of the enemy was not to be disregarded. He had, however, as it were, thrown down the gauntlet ; his hostility to England had carried him so far as Strype-Camden.
to lay an embargo on English ships, goods, and men, found in any port of his dominions. The Queen therefore saw plainly that nothing was left to meet this insolence but to authorize all such of her subjects as had suffered from this measure, and all others who might feel disposed to resent this hostile proceeding on the part of Spain, to be furnished with letters of marque and reprisal, with power to seize all ships and merchandise, wherever found, belonging to the subjects of the king of Spain. At the same time she ordered twenty-five sail of ships to be equipped to avenge the insults and wrongs she had received, to be employed under the command of Sir Francis Drake, whom she considered as the fittest officer in her dominions, from his experience and success in naval matters, to strike a blow against Spain.
But Drake, it appears, was beset by a volunteer, whose offer he could neither well reject, nor prudently accept. This was no less a person than the gallant and most accomplished Sir Philip Sydney, the friend and favourite of Queen Elizabeth, of whom one about the court said, "she was afraid (when he was about to leave her on another occasion) to lose the jewel of her times." In a life of this extraordinary gentleman, professed to be, and actually was, written by his friend, Sir Fulke Grevil, (Lord Brooke,) it is stated that this expedition was of Sir Philip's own projecting, "wherein he fashioned the
whole body with purpose to become the head of it himself.""I mean," says he, "the last employment but one, of Sir Francis Drake to the West Indies, which journey, as the scope of it was mixt both of sea and land service; so had it accordingly distinct officers and commanders, chosen by Sir Philip out of the ablest governors of those martial times." He then tells us, the project was contrived between themselves; it was, that he and Sir Francis should be equal commanders, when they had left England; that Sir Francis should bear the name for the preparations, and by the credit of Sir Philip, should have every thing abundantly supplied.
It was to be kept secret; as Sir Philip well knew it would be next to impossible to obtain the Queen's consent to his taking an employment so remote, and of so hazardous a nature; but when once it was ready, he presumed "the success would put envy and all her agents to silence." Sir Francis, on his part, found that Sir Philip's friends, with the influence of his excellent inward powers, would add both weight and fashion to his ambition; and consequently, "either with or without Sir Philip's company, yield unexpected ease and honour to him on this voyage.
The preparations went on; every thing that Sir Francis required was at once procured. Sir Francis repairs to Plymouth; waits only the watchLife of Sir Philip Sydney.